USCIS BACKS DOWN ON VISA STANDOFF AFTER WALL STREET JOURNAL STORY RUNS

Posted on: January 12th, 2010
by Greg Siskind
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Last month we blogged on Miriam Jordan’s piece about visa processing difficulties for artists claiming visas requiring one be culturally unique. The WSJ received a letter from one of the people interviewed in the story crediting the newspaper with helping to get USCIS to reverse itself:

Thanks for your coverage of the critical issues arts organizations face when bringing artists to the U.S. (“Send Us Your Tired, Your Poor, But Only if They’re ‘Culturally Unique,'” page one, Dec. 10). After the article was published, and with no prompting from us, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services notified us that visas for Orquesta Kef were approved. There was no explanation as to why they had changed their minds or even that they had changed their minds. We contacted the supervisor who sent the email and were told that the agency decided “to process an appeal themselves” and that the review showed that the visa should have been granted. No one has ever heard of the USCIS spontaneously reviewing their own decision. This can only be attributed to the Journal article that shined the light of day into what has been an entirely closed process.

While the review and decision came more than two weeks too late for our Fiesta Hanukkah, this is one of the only positive pieces of news in the artist visa situation in years. USCIS seems to be attempting a more enlightened understanding of congressional regulations. I do believe that this is entirely the Journal’s doing. Congratulations and thank you.

Jordan Peimer

Los Angeles